Facebook’s launch of Stories may be the social network’s big news of the week, but some Facebook users have spotted another addition, and are thoroughly confused. A “rocket ship” icon has popped up in the app of select users worldwide, adjacent to the News Feed button. Its appearance is prompting a lot of users to wonder, “what on earth is this thing?”
The button may be either at the top of the screen or the bottom, depending on whether the user is on iOS or Android.
As it turns out, the rocket ship icon is just the latest in Facebook’s ongoing experiments in presenting an alternate News Feed to users – one that consists of posts, articles, photos and videos from sources you haven’t followed, like Facebook Pages or posts news media organizations, for example.
While you might not be actively tracking these sources, Facebook believes it’s content that you’ll like. The items displayed in the “rocket ship” feed come from Pages that are similar to those you’ve already liked, as well as those that are popular with your friends – like a video that many people in your network are watching, for instance.
This is not a new experiment – Facebook was recently spotted testing an alternative News Feed, but was using a different icon (a small square) at the time. That test was also limited to Android beta users, according to reports. A similar earlier test on iOS actually labeled the second feed with the word “Explore.”
The new experiment with the rocket ship, however, is appearing in the mobile version of Facebook across both iOS and Android platforms, including those who have not opted into a beta.
Despite Facebook’s advanced algorithms designed to keep users engaged and endlessly scrolling – and its understanding of what a user has…